Get Started as a Referee

Referees play a key role in judo: enabling competition between athletes by conducting contests in a fair and safe way.

Refereeing is challenging, rewarding and satisfying volunteer role within British Judo. As well as being enjoyable and social in itself, refereeing helps equip people with life skills such as confidence and decisiveness, these attributes help referees in many other aspects of life.

Whether you want to support club competitions local to you, referee area competitions or take charge of a British Championships final, there are refereeing roles to suit you. If you really have what it takes, there are also opportunities to referee internationally.

What does Refereeing involve?

The referee structure is made up of 8 levels, starting at club level, progressing through to international level. As a referee builds their skills and experience, they have the opportunity to advance through these levels and attend larger, tougher and more prestigious events.

Referee duties include:

As referee

  • Ensuring contests are conducted correctly and safely, following our approved contest rules, and ultimately that the correct winner leaves the mat
  • Managing the flow of the contest, starting and stopping the contest and giving scores and penalties as required, supported the judges
  • Ensuring the scoreboard is correct
  • Explaining the reason for refereeing decisions made

As a judge

  • Referees sitting as judges are responsible for assisting the referee and correcting any refereeing errors.
  • Use video replay technology to help make decisions in difficult scenarios, where available
  • Ensuring the scoreboard is correct

As referee in charge

  • Overall responsibility for all refereeing matters in the run up to and during an event
  • Agreeing the list of referees called to an event
  • Deciding the refereeing teams and mat allocations
  • Giving the referees and coaches briefings
  • Managing refereeing decision appeals or complaints
  • Communication with other competition officials and event staff

How can I get involved in Refereeing?

It’s simple, so long as you are at least green belt and 12 years old, you can take your first steps toward becoming a referee – the first is to attend a refereeing course and take a theory paper to check your understanding.

You can find more about the right refereeing course for you on the Events Calendar. You can also speak with your area refereeing representative or club coach.

After the course and theory paper, we’ll work with you to arrange a practical assessment to confirm you’re safe to start refereeing at British Judo events. It’s possible to practice either in your club or at some low level events as a trainee before this assessment – but this isn’t required. Once passed, you are officially a British Judo referee and can begin refereeing at your first events – good luck!

Who does the role suit?

Refereeing is a suitable option for a wide range of people and is an interesting an rewarding way to support opportunities for competition across the country and, for many, a way to stay to remain involved, up close, in the sport they love.

We welcome young referees and those who’ve been in the sport a long time. The basics of refereeing are easy to understand and apply and our courses will cover all the essentials you need to know. There is also a fast-track option for highly experienced athletes and coaches.

To progress further, refereeing is well suited to those who can:

  • Work well as a team
  • Stay focussed for long periods of time
  • Make quick and accurate decisions
  • Remain calm, confident and composed
  • Keep themselves up to date on the rules and developments
  • Clearly explain the reasons for decisions

You can find listings of BJA Level 1 Refereeing Courses on our Events Calendar